No summer doldrums here at North Carolina Sea Grant, as things are really heating up. New research projects getting started. New team members joining. New student fellows selected. Even a new publication is hitting bookstores.

Seems we’re all constantly in motion — hopefully forward. That’s a great thing as long as we can continue to learn from our current and past efforts, investments, successes and challenges. This summer, the Sea Grant team has been doing just that — reflecting on the past four years of our program. That includes looking internally at our business practices and partnerships, as well as more broadly at our productivity and accountability to reach our research, extension and educational goals and performance targets.

This is all in preparation for a NOAA/National Sea Grant Office federal program review that occurs every four years. In early October, we’ll host a two-and-a-half-day site visit. An external review team will evaluate our program’s overall organization, as well as our success in meeting our national and state strategic plans.

There’s also an opportunity for public comment during this federally required review. Later this summer, our website’s homepage will have instructions for sending comments directly to the national team. I encourage you to provide input regarding successes and opportunities for our state program to continue to move forward in the coming years to meet research, extension and educational goals. These could be not only in the coastal region, but also on related topics across the state.

This fall, we’ll also survey you, our Coastwatch readers and online audiences, to better understand what types of information you find interesting, as well as how you’d like to receive it. Again, it’s our opportunity to reflect and adapt in order to deliver news and research in ways that are most meaningful.

We welcome Dave Shaw and Lee Cannon to our communications team as we continue to reach new audiences through Sea Grant, WRRI and Space Grant. They both bring unique storytelling and communication skills and perspectives that I know will be exciting additions to Coastwatch and our other media. It is a pleasure to have their energy complement that of our research and extension teams.

I also take this opportunity to celebrate our team’s excellence that has been recognized within NC State, as well as by external partners in the state, region and beyond. Several examples are highlighted in the Tidings section of this issue.

Hailing from a family where plant identification is a fun pastime, I have already read through the new Seacoast Plants of the Carolinas (and have a few copies lined up for holiday presents, too). You can enjoy excerpts and a Q&A with author Paul Hosier in this issue of Coastwatch. I’m ready to stroll along our coastal nature trails with this user-friendly, informative new guide in hand!

It’s a busy time, sure. But it’s summer, after all. In between our efforts for purposeful reflection and celebrating successes, you’ll also find me making time to dip my toes in any body of water I can find — a lake, the sound, the sea — in order to slow down and cool off with my family and friends.

I hope to hear from you regarding your summer excursions, at We also welcome your feedback on how our programs can continue to build on our solid foundation to meet the needs of coastal communities, and others across the state who know and love our coastal region.

This letter was published in the Summer 2018 issue of Coastwatch.